Fredrick and Wyjuana Montgomery started their Reach Forward program about four years ago, in an effort to impact middle school and high school kids in the Oklahoma City area.
“Our mission is basically to help create thoughtful productive youth citizens,” said Wyjuana Montgomery, organizer of the Reach Forward Program.
Creating those thoughtful and productive citizens is accomplished through a variety of activities.
“College visits, we took them to black wall street, last fall already we volunteer at city rescue mission, we provide different career exploration opportunities to give them a wide range of exposure,” said Montgomery.
The group typically does about two activities every month, but they never meet.
“We call them hangouts first of all, because what young person wants to go to a meeting,” said Montgomery.
About 60 kids come to the hangouts, which is tough since the group does not have a building of their own.
“We would really like to have a standalone building and have reach forward foundation be a center that could be open quite frankly every day. So that we could be, before school, after school support, and even in the Summer,” said Montgomery.
About 80% of the youth in the program come from single family homes.
“You wouldn’t imagine we literally operate without our families ever paying a dime,” said Montgomery.
Thirteen-year-old Isaiah says he found his confidence through the program.
“So really, it’s been helping me to build honor in my race and my skin color,” said Isaiah Lasala, who participates in the program.
Sixteen-year-old Alisha has been in the program since its inception.
“I was thinking like, you know you don’t need college to be successful, but the life around college, we got to see it and the campus, it was nice, I started to change my mind now, I want to be a nurse,” said Alisha Leroy, who also participates in the program.
Changing the trajectory of the lives of young people.
“Imagine someone drowning. If I’m drowning, I can’t walk, I can’t run, I can’t push, but if you toss me a life preserver all I have to do it reach. Reach forward,” said Montgomery.
Now the couple has seen several kids go through the program and are now in college, a goal previously they never would have reached for.